Early Christianity and the Catholic Church
Deserving separate mention as a significant factor in the cultural heritage of the ancient world, and Rome in particular, is the advent of Christianity. The powerful legacy of the new Christian faith emerged from the life, death and teachings of its founder, Jesus of Nazareth (c. 3 BCE-29 CE). The new faith was based upon the love of God and one’s neighbor, the Golden Rule and the promise of eternal life in the next world. The heart of the teachings of Jesus are explained in the famous “Sermon of the Mount,” one of most meaningful and powerful speeches in all history.
The followers of Jesus continued his teachings after his death. Breaking away from their Jewish roots, the Christians soon became a religious and social force the Romans had to address. After attempts to destroy the new faith had failed, the Romans first under the Emperor Constantine, and then Theodosius by 392 CE, finally accepted Christianity as the universal, Catholic, faith of all Romans. Barbarian tribes were converted by missionaries even before the collapse of the Roman Empire of the West. When they moved into the lands of the fallen empire, they were already a part of the new world of Western Christendom. Thus, Western Civilization had its Christian base established. Christianity formed the basis of all the subsequent history of Europe. Christianity and its deep roots in Judaism provided the fundamental element of the value and belief structure of modern Western Civilization.King of Kings - Sermon on the Mount
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